Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent
Review by WhatsYourTurkey
"Dissapointing, But Great Nonetheless"
While fans of the series may be disappointed by Sam's first next-gen outing, they will find many things to enjoy and experience in this new iteration.
Splinter Cell: Double Agent was created with a goal in mind; maintain the better elements of the past installments of the franchise, all the while giving new players an easy introduction to the franchise. The streamlined HUD and simpler gameplay attest to the team's dedication to this concept, but in "streamlining" this iteration, many elements that made Chaos Theory great were lost in translation.
Now, on to the basic review layout you all know and love:
Learning Curve: 15 minutes (Training Levels Suggested)
Playability: Very playable and simple, with a clean interface and very descriptive contextual icons
Stability: No bugs or problems as of October 24th, 2006
Time: Varies with player, upwards from 12 hours
Achievements: Very worthwhile, and most can be earned on a single playthrough
The graphics of Double Agent won't disappoint any 360 owner, but the truly impressive graphics come in batches. The first mission in Iceland remains one of the more impressive levels, due to a rich atmosphere with vibrant color contrasts. Many other missions, such as Kinshasa, show the true ability for the 360 to render a beautifully detailed environment, as well as a larger scope of view than previous generations allowed. It's great that the game can maintain a steady framerate with highly detailed environments, characters and objects in view, but it comes at a cost. Several missions, such as the prison break, use watered down textures that have their target look nailed down, but they're flat and fairly ugly if you pay close enough attention to the area. That being said, they usually show up in missions where you're too busy running away from trouble to notice.
Overall Score: (A Semi-Reluctant) 9
Ironically for a game with such graphically impressive roots, the Splinter Cell series is loved by fans for its impressive sound and voice acting. Several levels have an impressive ambient background, ranging from warzones to casinos, and the sound is what brings them off of the screen and into your senses. There's little else to say, other than the fact that this may very well have the best ambience of any 360 game as of yet.
The voice acting is impressive, with Michael Ironsides still giving the protagonist an organic feel that few other actors can accomplish. Amon Tobin's soundtrack is more subtle than Chaos Theory's, but it matches the dark and mysterious feel of this installment well.
Compared to the other installments of the series, it remains about the same, while a little less involved than Chaos Theory's. Compared to other 360 games, it remains a little more involved than most games, making up for its new watered-down feel. Contextual interactions remain well-implemented, shooting is more precise but more challenging, and finding shade in broad daylight remains a good challenge, even on the Normal difficulty. Unlocking your weapons and gadgets through objectives is fun, providing a deeper gameplay experience and factor of choice for how to accomplish a goal using the new tech. Multiplayer, while simplified to a dichotomy of speed vs. strength, remains a highlight with solid maps and gameplay that remains fresh and challenging throughout.
The new trust meter for both the JBA and NSA remains a fun diversion from the linear monotony of finishing objectives and leaving. Giving you a choice as to what you complete, and making you suffer the consequences, you are given a good deal of options as to how you maintain the trust of both organizations. Also, the choices you make in certain parts are gripping and well portrayed, giving you the feeling of urgency that you'd need to feel a sense of importance in these events.
Fans of Chaos Theory may remember the stealth score, a percentage given out by the level's end rating your spying prowess. In Double Agent, the score is harder to get, as knocking out enemies or force-hacking devices instantly deducts points. Therefore, it remains hard to get a positive score, let alone 100%.
The value is good for the single player campaign, giving you your money's worth for a third person action game. With single player ranging from 10-20 hours on your first attempt, and multiplayer lasting as long as you will to play it, the game will give you a good selection of things to do.
Overall, Double Agent is an impressive and fun, albeit disappointing, experience. Fans of the series will enjoy it, while newcomers may or may not get into it as easily as Ubisoft intended.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/02/07
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